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Ok... I've been tinkering with Blender for years but the interface always turned me off. Recently I have decided to make a go of actually learning to use Blender. I have 2.93 and recently I have started trying 3.0. I can do some basic modeling stuff but some things just don't work the way I seem to "think" that they're supposed to. Simple deform is one of them.

I want to make a helix out of 4 symmetrical strands. I have successfully done so with 2 strands ( essentially cylinders subdivided really small). But when I create a mirror of that same strand so that there are 4 strands... the simple deform goes all wonky. It creates a simple spiral and nothing I do makes it even close to a helix shape. I have looked for videos and all the videos are different versions and some of the options are completely different.

Can it be done? I know there is an addon but I am flat broke right now. The 4 strands should twist around the axis just like the 2 strand helix does. But nothing I do gets anywhere near what I am looking for.

Thank you in advance.

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Here's a little 'Rope' GN node group to make a multi-strand helix from any curve you set it to modify:

enter image description here

..With this sort of result:

enter image description here

(Blender 3.0b)

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    $\begingroup$ That's a really nice solution with Geometry Nodes. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonBrinkmann maybe not strictly an answer to the OP, but just hoping to improve Cloudrunner's UX :) $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely yes, and I like it because I'm at the very beginning of using GN. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 9:12
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You can create a single object that is four circles of vertices placed where you want them. The origin of the object will be the center of rotation.

enter image description here

Use the Screw Modifier to extrude a shape up along the Z axis by entering some distance into the Screw field. Mind the Steps values to smooth out the shape.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I'll try that for sure $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Bummer... I followed your instrcutions to the letter and somehow is is making a spiral with 3 of the circles and the 4th is centered on the origin. It makes no sense. Any suggestions? $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ +1... maybe you could mention the option of tilting the profile-circles, so they are orthogonal to the sweep direction? $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ OK... I had to add an empty object at the origin to set as the axis object. Now we're rockin. Thanx. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ last one looks like a cool circular staircase handrail $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Nov 23 at 16:31
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Here's another possibility, as you said you've created it with a subdivided cylinder. Now if you have that single cylinder you can create multiple strand helices by doing the following (but note that this also works with Allen's answer, if you created a single helix with the Screw Modifier you can jump to point 3):

  1. Put a SimpleDeform modifier on it, use the Twist option, Angle whatever you like (720° in my example) and the Axis to Z for a vertical helix.

simpledeform

  1. Now in Edit Mode move the cylinder out of the center until it creates a single helix you like, to directly view the result while you're editing make sure Display modifier in Edit mode is enabled.

move mesh

  1. Back in Object Mode add an Empty at the origin of the helix.

add empty

  1. Select the helix and add an Array Modifier. For the offset, disable the default Relative Offset and enable Object Offset. Choose the Empty as object. For a start, leave the Count at the default value 2.

array modifier

  1. If you now start rotating the Empty on the Z axis, the second helix duplicate gets rotated around the center. You can of course any angle you like, for regular even distances you should use 360° divided the Count of the Array Modifier, e.g. 180° for a double helix, 120° for a triple helix and 90° for a quadruple helix.

rotate empty

Here are different examples, of course you don't have to use a regular even distance if you want the helices closer together:

examples

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Here the classic way - i cannot believe I am providing the classic solution 🤦‍♀️ - but i think mooonboots will appreciate it :)

  1. Add Helix

Note: you need this add-on (built-in):

enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. adjust the values to your needs

enter image description here

  1. add empty

  2. add array modifier to your curve, count 4, object offset: empty

enter image description here

  1. rotate your empty by 90 degrees

enter image description here

  1. give your curve some bevel depth value

enter image description here

result:

enter image description here

Note: this is all non-destructive and you can still change anything as you like, or add some more modifier, to get something interesting like the simple deform modifier...

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Nice one Chris! $\endgroup$ Nov 24 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you‼️‼️‼️‼️ $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Nov 24 at 19:32

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